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A Poem by Ma Thida

Ma Thida is a Burmese human rights activist, surgeon, writer, and former prisoner of conscience. In October 1994, she was arrested and sentenced to 20 years in Insein Prison on the charges of “endangering public peace, having contact with illegal organizations, and distributing unlawful literature.” She was not released until 1999, after serving six years in harsh conditions. She was released on humanitarian grounds due in part to her declining health and international pressure.

Ma Thida is the President of The Writers in Prison Committee (WiPC) of PEN International.

Credits Poem: Ma Thida November 05 2021

Get out of the Maze

No more at the junction of two roads.
No more at the fork in the road.
We are already in the maze.

We know the path is convoluted
but we are determined to walk.
Not missing our goal
like rodents follow
the smell of cheese
without having an experience of
what peace is.
We just follow the scent of blood
rather than curve those passages and
get out of the loop into the dead end
but the path tends towards the sea of blood
no more at the junction of two roads.
We are in the maze.

Flowers might be fallen
but Spring won’t be ruined.
We cry out in the roads
respect our votes
but our roads had been stopped.
Our votes had been chopped.
No more fork in the road.
We are trapped in the maze.

Fight or fright?
Passage to the prison?
Or to the tomb?
We can only choose the right not to fight.
Someone arrested this evening
the next morning
the family received his dead body.
Why can we still choose to be frightened?
Many of us who were ambiguous
chose the path of armed struggle.
No more at the junction of two roads.
We are in the maze.

An eye for an eye
would make the whole world blind
but among intellectual blinds
An eye on the walls of a maze
could shoot you till death and
there are many eyes fixed
on this puzzled road.
There will be no branch
without a watching eye.
No more fork in the road.
We are in the built maze.

We still need to reach our goal
though we are forced not to choose the paths anymore.
We can still break down those unicursal walls.
Together we can still make the maze
into an organized space of certain future
with common interests and shared values.
We just need to be aware of
what this maze is, and
how we can turn it inside out.
Let’s get out of this maze

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